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Strange fits of passion I have known… August 17, 2012

Posted by janehaynes in : Atomies of love, dogs, Thinking skywards , add a comment

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Strange Fits Of Passion I Have Known

For Lucy

I have never walked down a path gloved like this one and I want to cling on while I imagine retracing steps tomorrow, as naïve as to imagine that I will ever see the same white throat swallow chase with the twilight, or the same wave make towards the shore. The pathway will be there and the light will fall, but different as it steals between lichen loved oaks, the scratched beeches, notched alders and hovers beside and beyond guardian banks of purple-speckle foxgloves that stalk me in their hundreds. Poisoned digitalis bells that sound the heart and have impelled a fascination since I was a child and knew them by more sinister names, dead man’s bells and witch’s gloves, which I was told when sucked would change the beat of your heart for better or for worse, or stop it forever, are seeded here.

Tomorrow, I will uncover an undergrowth stumbled on by last night’s storm. Brambles will advance in legions alongside the pathway. I have walked down other paths and sometimes I have seen hollyhocks and at other times, wild iris; often a grouping of gloves, so different from the sweetness of a cowslip bell but I have never seen – and they are no longer there for the seeing – such a sheet of poisoned heart bells. The idea of a poisonous nature fascinates; the golden chains of the laburnum, the yew and that modest berry, the deadly nightshade, seduce me. Ah, I have forgotten hemlock. My heart aches as though of the hemlock I had drunk and was about to sleep forever.

Scrambling for balance, I inhale loamed bark with tears and trample sudden orchids that are gemmed like butterfly into dunged earth and cannot escape the knowing that nature is careless. Involuntary images of the heart - of digitalis poisons and inhalations of loss – are companions as I emerge from the undergrowth into a clearing with nothing other than the memory of Lucy - breathless and with her life forces extinguished - as she changed into a carcass beside me.

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and oh,

The difference to me!

Lucy, my Hungarian Vizsla and a divine part of myself for almost eleven years is dead. For precision’s sake, and death’s measure is precise, her life was extinguished by a kindly administered injection of Phenobarbitone at 5PM or thereabouts, I did not look at my watch but held her tight in my arms on Friday 27th July 2012.

Each day of Lucy’s life reminded me of the privilege of living close to an instinctual and gentle animal nature about which the human animal knows, or perhaps I mean cares, less and less. Milan Kundera says: “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.” I go further and say that it is only in our, no not in ‘our’ but in my own experience of loving Lucy that I have experienced the joy of an extended and passionate relationship that has not been harrowed by a fretted ambivalence of human nature. Paradise lost is to acknowledge a paradise of desire where love was unconditional and without ambivalence, without envy but desire survives rarely between humans without some obstacle, without some green ey’d monster.

Lucy lived life through her heart and fittingly it was her heart that stole the life force from her. No! Lucy lived life through her heart and